Despite missing star forward Kawhi Leonard, the Toronto Raptors bounced back from a two-game losing streak in a major way Tuesday night, earning a 24-point road win over a very staunch LA Clippers team.
The Raptors benefitted from a number of big performances across the board, seemingly addressing a number of issues that had been detrimental over the team's most recent rough stretch.
As Toronto looks to continue to build moving forward, take a look at five takeaways from its dominant win.
|Dec. 3-Dec. 9||Dec. 11 vs. Clippers|
|Kyle Lowry||3.8 ppg, 8.3 apg, 14.3 FG%||21 PTS, 7 AST, 61.5 FG%|
|Fred VanVleet||8.5 ppg, 2.5 apg, 36.4 FG%||5 PTS, 14 AST, 40.0 FG%|
|Danny Green||6.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 33.3 FG%||9 PTS, 5 REB, 57.1 FG%|
|Delon Wright||4.0 ppg, 1.5 apg, 33.3 FG%||12 PTS, 4 REB, 50.0 FG%|
Toronto entered the night having lost three of its last four games - a big aspect of its rough stretch can be attributed to subpar shooting from its backcourt. While Kyle Lowry's struggles were noted more than others, the guards shot poorly as a unit, as they were led by Fred VanVleet's 36.4 percent shooting.
Tonight was a different story - Lowry, VanVleet, Green and Wright combined to shoot 54.3 percent from the field. The aggression of Lowry and VanVleet made things easier for the Raptors offence and resulted in the two combining to dish out 21 assists.
In the absence of Kawhi Leonard, the team goes where its guards lead.
The Transition Game
The Raptors spent Monday afternoon travelling from Toronto to Los Angeles while the Clippers' overtime battle in Phoenix Monday night meant overnight travel ahead of a back-to-back with a tough opponent waiting.
It was clear who had the fresher legs.
Toronto dominated the transition game, scoring 28 fast break points to LA's four - it helps that the team scored 24 points off of the 17 turnovers it forced in the win.
The Raptors simply did what they were supposed to do, taking advantage of a weary Clippers team by putting their fresh legs to use. Possibly the most encouraging aspect of Toronto using this advantage over LA is its implications moving forward.
No starter played in the fourth quarter, meaning the Raptors' main rotational players received additional rest on the first night of a back-to-back with the defending champion Warriors on deck for Wednesday.
High Assists, Low Turnovers
While Kyle Lowry was on his unprecedented assists run to start the season, it became clear that unselfish play is infectious with this ballclub.
Tonight, it was Fred VanVleet that set the tone by dishing out a career-high 14 assists while Lowry dished out seven of his own. In total, Toronto assisted on 34 of its 50 made field goals (68 percent). On a number of occasions, the Raptors made the extra pass, giving up good shots for even better looks.
They finished the night shooting 52.1 percent from the field and 48.3 percent from 3-point range.
For the game, the Raptors committed just nine turnovers, a figure that is equally as encouraging as the high assist number. It is just the third time that Toronto has committed fewer than 10 turnovers this season and the team is now 3-0 in such games.
Serge Ibaka guides the @Raptors to victory in LA with a game-high 25 PTS, 9 REB, 3 BLK! #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/MFc9na3Fkr- NBA (@NBA) December 12, 2018
Toronto has played two games at the STAPLES Center this season, earning two big wins thanks in part to two dominant performances from centre Serge Ibaka.
After scoring a career-high 34 points in the Raptors' 14-point win over the Lakers on Nov. 4, Ibaka finished with a game-high 25 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in the Raptors' 24-point win over the Clippers on Dec. 11.
Two of Ibaka's three blocks came in the third quarter, creating offence and building momentum for Toronto, who outscored LA 33-17 in the period.
Serge's dominant play set the tone for a dominant performance across the board for Raptors bigs - Jonas Valanciunas finished the night with 16 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes and Pascal Siakam scored 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting.
While the guards got back on track, the bigs ensured there were no letdowns on the interior.